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U.K. CHICKEN PROCESSOR EMPLOYS NEW STUNNING METHOD
Deans Foods has become the first company in the world to use "controlled
atmosphere stunning" for the 7,000 spent hens and "breeders" processed
each hour in the company's facility. The new stunning process is already
in use by some of the major processors of "broiler" chickens. The use
of the stunning method on spent hens and breeders had not been implemented
in part because those birds "tend to be more 'flighty' and 'lively' than
broilers." Controlled atmosphere stunning involves exposing the birds
to one of several nitrogen-based gas mixtures and is considered one of
the most humane slaughter methods for chickens and turkeys. Using the
method, birds are typically stunned before transport and before being
shackled upside down to facilitate slaughter, considered highly stressful
times for chickens and turkeys who have been stunned inadequately or not
The practice of controlled atmosphere stunning is supported as a welfare
improvement by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA)
in the UK, which had previously certified Deans Foods as a "Freedom Food"
chicken processor. Freedom Food was established in 1994 as the RSPCA's
means of implementing and enforcing welfare standards. In addition to
improving the welfare of chickens before slaughter, controlled atmosphere stunning has
also been shown to improve conditions for slaughterhouse workers, increase
worker productivity, and improve the quality of meat products.
"Stunning Advice," MeatNews.com, Domenick Castaldo, Ph.D., August 31, 2004
"The Case for Controlled Atmosphere Stunning," PETA, Cem Akin, October 8, 2003
PDF File, 258k: http://www.kfccruelty.com/pdfs/kfc14.pdf
CLAIMS OF CRUEL AND ONGOING ABUSES AT INDIANA FARM
Walker, a former employee of an Indiana farm, is going public with claims
that the farm's pigs were subjected to severe cruelty and neglect. Walker,
who worked for more than six years at the Seldom Rest pig farm, describes
in detail numerous instances of abuse including a dying, pregnant sow
being forced to nurse another sow's litter. Another incident involved
a pregnant pig that was forced to lay in the sun for weeks to give birth
before being killed. Walker alleges widespread neglect of the pigs' living
conditions that led to numerous broken limbs, overcrowding, and other
health problems. According to Walker, "I can't tell you in the seven years
I was there how many animals have broken their legs from getting their
feet caught in a six-inch gap at the end of these gestation pens." Walker
also admits to killing piglets by swinging their heads against the side
of a pen and killing fully grown pigs by clubbing them with a pipe. The
use of "blunt trauma" as a method of euthanasia is considered unacceptable
by both the American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV) and at
least one industry expert. The owners of Seldom Rest farm, which has approximately
2,800 breeding sows, are past winners of the Pork All-American award,
a "national award given to producers who exemplify the ideals and standards
of the industry."
"Hog Abuse Allegations Investigated," The Star Press, Seth Slabaugh, September 8, 2004
"Hogs Allegedly Live Painful, Stressful Lives," The Star Press, Seth Slabaugh, September 7, 2004
U.S. PIG SLAUGHTER TO SET RECORD DESPITE SMALL FARM CLOSURES
US pig industry is slaughtering animals at a brisk pace and is set to
slaughter a record number of pigs in 2004. Economists estimate that two
million more pigs will be slaughtered this year than the current record
of 102 million slaughtered in 1998. The year-to-date number of pigs slaughtered
is up 3.1% and is expected to end the year at 2.5% over the 2003 number.
Typically such record slaughter numbers are met with capacity constraints
and/or weakening prices, but this year the industry is experiencing both
excess capacity and even stronger prices. Such an industry dynamic points
to significantly stronger consumer demand, attributed in part to the popularity
of high-protein diets. According to a pork industry publication, "Most
of the credit for this (combination of high slaughter and high prices)
should go to Dr. Atkins and the other proponents of high protein diets."
The record pig slaughter in the US comes at the same time that some smaller pig farms are being bought out by state governments. In North Carolina, more than 26 pig farms have been shut down permanently, their owners opting to sign agreements not to raise pigs on the land for at least 100 years. Owners are receiving between $90,000 and $900,000 for their properties, part of $12 million that the state has allocated so far to decommission pig farms that are located in the state's flood plain.
"US Swine Economics Report," The Pig Site, Ron Plain, September 6, 2004
"More NC Flood-Prone Hog Farms to be Closed Down," Pork Magazine, Bill Raufer, September 3, 2004
CALVES: "HUMANELY-RAISED" VEAL; SCIENTISTS SEEK FETAL BLOOD
of the leading providers of "naturally-raised" beef in the US is looking
to expand the market for veal from calves raised using more humane, natural
methods. Farmer Bill Niman plans to work with small Wisconsin dairy farmers
in order to help slow the decline of family farms in the state as well
as increase acceptability of veal among American consumers. A dairy farmer
who helped develop the program said, "Veal has been the poster child for
everything we've done wrong with dairy animals." If successful, the program
could involve as many as 4,500 farms supplying thousands of calves whose
meat will be marketed and sold to high-end restaurants throughout the
country. The new program involves raising grass-fed calves and providing
more space than traditional methods and is supported by the Animal Welfare
Institute (AWI), an organization that certifies farms according to "humane
husbandry" standards. "The point is that the alternative for these individual
animals is much worse," said Marlene Halverson of AWI. Male calves born
on dairy farms are typically killed shortly after birth or sold to large-scale
veal operations that strictly confine the calves and feed them iron-deficient
In Australia, medical research companies are paying a premium for pregnant cows so that they can use the blood from unborn (fetal) calves for scientific purposes. Australia is being targeted in part because the country is perceived as "clean and green" compared to the US where fears of BSE ("mad cow disease") remain high.
"Niman Strives to Make Veal an Acceptable Choice," San Francisco Chronicle, Kim Severson, September 8, 2004
"Australian Cattle Targeted for Fetal Blood," ABC Radio, August 20, 2004
CONSUMER NEWS: FOOD CONTAMINANTS; USDA DIETARY GUIDELINES
FOOD CONTAMINANTS: Researchers from the American Chemical Society have discovered that animal-based foods have been found to contain higher levels of flame retardants known as PBDEs than expected. One researcher noted, "We found PBDE in all food containing animal fats;" the report found the highest levels of PDBEs in fish, particularly farmed salmon, followed by other meat products and dairy products. Although not much is known about PBDEs, they are believed to be related to PCBs and have been linked to cancer, endocrine disruption, and brain impairment in humans. The high risk associated with fish builds on the fear of other contaminants such as mercury, known to cause health risks to pregnant women and young children.
DIETARY GUIDELINES: As the USDA considers updates to its dietary recommendations for Americans, including the well-known Food Guide Pyramid, an advisory committee released a report this week that is described as "largely a positive one for the industry." In its report to USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services, the committee reiterated the longstanding position of the USDA that consumers should eat a variety of foods. The committee did make some specific recommendations about limiting intake of cholesterol and fat, specifically trans fats. Following release of the committee's recommendation, the USDA opened a public comment period that will last until September 29, 2004.
"Flame Retardants Found in US Food Supply," Meatingplace.com, Kristin Gagnon, September 7, 2004
"Toxins in Food Supply Signal Need for Change, Environmental News Network, Dr. David Suzuki, September 2, 2004
"Dietary Guidelines for Americans: Report Is Released," Cow-Calf Weekly, September 3, 2004
"Public Comment Period Begins on Report of Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee," USDA, August 27, 2004
OTHER ITEMS OF INTEREST
"Pig Health Section Upgraded," The Pig Site, September 6, 2004
An industry-sponsored website for pig farmers has been updated with a comprehensive library of more than 600 pages of publicly available "information on managing the health aspects of a pig or hog farm."
"Fewer Pigs Don't Abate Concerns of Farm Neighbors," York Daily Record, Lorie Badders, September 7, 2004
A UK pig farmer has scaled back plans for a proposal to house up to 3,300 in the face of local opposition and stringent federal regulations, instead choosing to lower the expected number to 2,200 pigs.
"Growing Threat of Illegal Meat Trade," The Pig Site, September 6, 2004
The UK reports that the import of illegal "bush meat" has increased substantially, with nearly 16,000 seizures this year, representing 185 tons of illegal meat; moreover, this amount is expected to account for less than 1% of the country's illegal meat trade.
Morning News website)
"WTO Approves Sanctions against US over Dumping Rules," Meatingplace.com, Brendan O'Neill, September 7, 2004
The World Trade Organization, responding to complaints from US trade partners, authorized several countries to impose more than $150 million in sanctions against the US for not repealing "anti-dumping" regulations protected by the so-called Byrd Amendment enacted in 2000.
"Tyson Included in List of Fastest Growing Companies," Meatingplace.com, Ann Bagel, September 6, 2004
Tyson Foods, the world's foremost meat processor and largest slaughterer of farmed animals, has been ranked number 44 on Fortune's list of the 100 Fastest Growing Companies.
- UK Chicken Processor Employs New Stunning Method
- Claims of Cruel and Ongoing Abuses at Indiana Pig Farm
- US Pig Slaughter to Set Record Despite Small Farm Closures
- Calves: "Humanely Raised" Veal; Scientists Seek Fetal Blood
- Consumer News: Food Contaminants; USDA Dietary Guidelines
- Other Items of Interest
Compiled and edited by Hedy Litke and Che Green, Farmed Animal Watch
is a free weekly electronic news digest of information concerning farmed
animal issues gleaned from an array of academic, industry, advocacy and
mainstream media sources.